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The Moonstone

6
Keeping my private sentiments to myself, I respectfully requested Mr. Franklin to
go on. Mr. Franklin replied, "Don't fidget, Betteredge," and went on.
Our young gentleman's first words informed me that his discoveries, concerning
the wicked Colonel and the Diamond, had begun with a visit which he had paid
(before he came to us) to the family lawyer, at Hampstead. A chance word
dropped by Mr. Franklin, when the two were alone, one day, after dinner,
revealed that he had been charged by his father with a birthday present to be
taken to Miss Rachel. One thing led to another; and it ended in the lawyer
mentioning what the present really was, and how the friendly connexion between
the late Colonel and Mr. Blake, senior, had taken its rise. The facts here are
really so extraordinary, that I doubt if I can trust my own language to do justice to
them. I prefer trying to report Mr. Franklin's discoveries, as nearly as may be, in
Mr. Franklin's own words.
"You remember the time, Betteredge," he said, "when my father was trying to
prove his title to that unlucky Dukedom? Well! that was also the time when my
uncle Herncastle returned from India. My father discovered that his brother-in-law
was in possession of certain papers which were likely to be of service to him in
his lawsuit. He called on the Colonel, on pretence of welcoming him back to
England. The Colonel was not to be deluded in that way. "You want something,"
he said, "or you would never have compromised your reputation by calling on
ME." My father saw that the one chance for him was to show his hand; he
admitted, at once, that he wanted the papers. The Colonel asked for a day to
consider his answer. His answer came in the shape of a most extraordinary
letter, which my friend the lawyer showed me. The Colonel began by saying that
he wanted something of my father, and that he begged to propose an exchange
of friendly services between them. The fortune of war (that was the expression
he used) had placed him in possession of one of the largest Diamonds in the
world; and he had reason to believe that neither he nor his precious jewel was
safe in any house, in any quarter of the globe, which they occupied together.
Under these alarming circumstances, he had determined to place his Diamond in
the keeping of another person. That person was not expected to run any risk. He
might deposit the precious stone in any place especially guarded and set apart--
like a banker's or jeweller's strong-room-- for the safe custody of valuables of
high price. His main personal responsibility in the matter was to be of the passive
kind. He was to undertake either by himself, or by a trustworthy representative--
to receive at a prearranged address, on certain prearranged days in every year,
a note from the Colonel, simply stating the fact that he was a living man at that
date. In the event of the date passing over without the note being received, the
Colonel's silence might be taken as a sure token of the Colonel's death by
murder. In that case, and in no other, certain sealed instructions relating to the
disposal of the Diamond, and deposited with it, were to be opened, and followed
 
 
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